Merlin associated the look Arthur was currently giving him, with absolute and utter disaster. In this scenario absolute and utter disaster meant a long, winding staircase with a wooden banister that snaked along side it. The stairs spiralled down the entire turret they were in, making a circular decent to the bottom. The turret itself was the tallest in the castle and Merlin could belive it as he peered over the uppermost rail on shaky legs.
He could just see a tiny dot of white flagstone at the very bottom of the staircase, the last glimmer of solid ground. He wasn't particularly scared of heights but he knew only too well what he and Arthur were actually there for.
"Right, you first." Arthur said and grinned like a snake that was about to bite off someone's head.
Merlin wished he would because then he wouldn't have to slide down the dreaded banister, which is what the prince had decided they would do that day.
"No." He said flatly, shaking his head, mostly in disbelief.
"If you're bored then couldn't you just go hunting or something?" Merlin pleaded, thinking that the death of a small furry animal had to be better than his own.
"Went hunting yesterday. Face it, Merlin. You're going down that banister if it's the last thing you do." Arthur said, folding his arms and doing his best princely stance.
"It will be the last thing I do!"
Merlin hated it when the prince got bored. It always meant trouble, some form of torture or both. This was the latter.
"You can be so…so…err…" Merlin tried to think of a word that would describe the stubborn prince. It seemed that such a word had not yet been invented.
"Charming, kind, generous?" Arthur supplied unhelpfully.
Merlin raised a sarcastic eyebrow.
"Anyway, enough of how wonderful I am. Why are you still here? I ordered you to go didn't I?"
"No ifs, buts, whys or anything else. Go." Arthur said in a tone of voice that was final.
Merlin sent a final scowl over his shoulder before warily sitting on the steep wooden rail, wobbling precariously.
He gazed down at the inevitable fate that was before him and swallowed a lump that had grown in his throat. The banister that was only too long, too high and too real, eyed him back with an almost menacing stare.
He took a deep breath and tried to let go of the rail but his hands seemed to have frozen.
"Look, are you planning on going today or not?" Arthur said sarcastically behind him.
"Shut up. I don't see you subjecting yourself to certain death!" Merlin retorted.
Arthur's foot began to tap impatiently and Merlin knew he had better go or the prince would probably just push him.
He took another deep breath and forced his hands to let go of the banister.
Immediately he was slipping down the rail at a ridiculously fast pace. The world was a dizzying blur of colour as he whipped past the paintings and tapestries on the wall. His head began to spin with his descent and he almost fell off, just managing to regain his balance.
Arthur would pay for this.
Gwen was quite happily minding her own business, carrying a cluster of dirty clothes up the staircase, when suddenly a blur of red and blue shot past, sailing along on the banister at a hundred miles an hour.
The clothes where in the air before you could say "kamikaze" and a more than a little shocked Gwen stared after the still speeding bullet that may or may not have been Merlin.
The end of the rail was racing up towards Merlin at an alarming rapid pace. He, amidst his whirling thoughts, knew that there was no way there was any stopping.
He was going to go over the edge.
He sailed off the end of the rail like an eagle and landed in a heap, some meters away from the foot of the stairs, in a tangled pile of limbs and adrenalin.
It took a moment to realize what had just happened. It had all happened so fast that it was almost surreal. He dazedly climbed to his feet, rubbing a bruised lump that was beginning to sprout out from his forehead.
"KALABUNGA!" Someone shouted gleefully and Merlin snapped his head up to see Arthur surfing at top speed down the banister, on his sock clad feet, no less.
His face a picture of insanity and his arms out stretched for balance, he almost looked like some unnaturally large bird, as he flew off the end of the rail and crashed into poor Merlin at the speed of a rocket powered missile.
Merlin spat out a foot that had appeared in his mouth (he wasn't sure if it was his or Arthur's) and dragged himself from beneath the prince who leapt up vigorously, a ridiculously delighted look on his face.
Suddenly there was a clatter of metal on the stone floor and they both looked up to see a flabbergasted maid, her hands holding an invisible tray and her features doing a convincible impression of a fish out of water.
"…A…u…o…" She gurgled before picking up the tray and hurrying off down a corridor, shooting startled looks over her shoulder every now and then. It wasn't every day that you saw the crowned prince of Camelot sliding down a banister like a lunatic.
"Lets do that again!" Arthur turned to Merlin, his eyes harbouring an unnatural light.
Merlin stared in horror for a moment at the mad man in front of him before turning heel and desperately trying to leap away to the wide open door that led to safety.
Arthur grabbed him in a spit second however and proceeded to drag him back up the stairs, the unlucky Merlin practically yanking his arm out of its socket in a hopeless attempt to get away from the adrenalin junkie of a prince.